SES-LINK is a project that looks at the relationship between linkages in social-ecological systems and the governance and resilience of these systems.
Linked human-environment systems, or social-ecological systems (SES), are characterized by interactions on multiple scales, among actors and ecosystems within a particular social, institutional and biophysical environment. These interactions determine the co-evolution of the system and its response to internal or external disturbance, such as the impact of global change. They can for instance create feedbacks that lock the system in its current state and severely limit its potential to adapt to new circumstances.
Knowledge about how the nature of these linkages affects the responses, performance and outcomes of the coupled system is, however, limited. In the SES-LINK project the aim is to address this knowledge gap by systematically investigating social-ecological linkages and their implications for the resilience and governance of SES.
This is done by combining analysis of empirical cases with theoretical approaches to identify different types of social-ecological linkages and their impact on SES dynamics (see fig above and research). SES-LINK develops mathematical and simulation models to explore SES' behavior resulting from these linkages in a range of environments – river basins, land use and marine ecosystems.
In the project particular emphasis is put on incorporating human behavioral responses to environmental or social change in order to assess the interaction of social and ecological dynamics. Examples of models include models of common-pool resource use such as irrigation in Bali or small-scale fisheries in Mexico, a model of social-ecological regime shifts in the Baltic Sea and stylized models of social-ecological traps. Using this model-based exploration SES-LINK aims to identify characteristics of social-ecological feedbacks that are critical for understanding and governing SES change (SES typology).